The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


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Kuret's picture

This weekend I decided to make some Swedish style breads reminded of a conversation Ive had in an arlier thread about the ultimate book on baking ryes. So instead of rushing out to get the "holy grail" of rye books I decided to make some from a Swedish baking book that I own.

The rye bread Is actually one of the best ryes I have ever made although the method seemed strange to me. First of you make a sourdough preferment with an hydration of roughly 60-65% wich is really dry for a whole rye dough. This is left to ferment for at least 12 hours after wich the final dough is made with a small kicker of commercial yeast, the recipe calls for fresh yeast wich is availble all over Sweden so that is what I used. The dough then ferments 60 minutes and is punched down once during fermentation after wich it is shaped and left to ferment for 45-60 minutes more before going into the oven for 50 minutes. Really great bread, can´t stress that enough!

The barley flatbread was a big faliure, It was far too salty and that resulted in to slow fermentation and though salty crumb. I then re read the recipe and realised that there must be a mistake, the authour specifies 2.3% syrup and 3.3% salt (roughly) which I think is a mix up the salt seems much more resonable at that level. Will probably try them again some day as I love the taste of them with some hot bean stew.

EDIT: Ho hum! Here is a pic! The loaf on the right has been man handled a and that is the reason for the flour being a bit splotched over the top of the loaf but the other is as beautiful as a newborn baby, whitch it is in some regard...

gmask1's picture

I figured that I'd make myself a blog rather than posting back into the forums all the time. No point cluttering up a perfectly good forum with my one-track-minded baking experiences! 

Last weekend I took another shot at the 100% Sourdough Rye recipe kindly passed on to me by a good work colleague. My previous attempt had been a fair to middling success, and I was confident that this would turn out even better than the first. I was pleasantly surprised by how good the loaves turned out, given my total inexperience in making bread. 

Here's how they turned out: 


and the interior:


What I'm most happy about is that the resulting loaves - apart from tasting great - have my mind working to figure out ways to improve them. The scoring didn't take, so I'll need to think about different ways to work the scoring out. Plus the surface tension is probably not right, so I'll need to work on my folding.

Lastly - for my own benefit as much as anyone else's - this is the recipe I've been using successfully (all credit to OliverN from my work. I've made a couple of small annotations over time). Any suggestions or variations are absolutely appreciated!

Stage 1:

Mix together

4 x cups rye flour.

3 x cups luke warm water

2 x cups starter.

Leave for 16-24 hrs, until the mix has a domed top.


Stage 2

Mix into previous mixture

3 teaspoons sea salt

4 x cups rye flour.

Leave for 12 hours.


Split mixture into two bread pans and leave for a couple of hours (I never do that though). For rye flour you do not need to kneed it. I just flatten the mixture and roll into a log.

Bake in 180 preheated oven for an hour. 

cmagerssmith's picture

I purchased the new Bosch Universal Mixer so I could make bread using my wheat grinder.  I purchased locally from Whole Foods their Organic Hard Red Winter Wheat.  I've tried a couple of times to make bread using it and each time it is "sticky" and never even reaches the kneading stage.  Just threw away yet another big batch of sticky dough.  Truly frustrating!!  I'd like to utilize the grain that I can purchase locally and really do like to grind my own grain for nutritional benefits.  In case the problem with not enough protein in the grain, I added dough enhancer (perhaps not enough though)

I've troubleshooted each and every facet - or so I thought I did.  I just threw away my second big batch of sticky dough.  Does anyone have a straightforward delicious recipe using Organic Hard Red Winter Wheat.....or have any suggestions for me.  Thanks so much,  Cindy  (located in Florida)

dmsnyder's picture

Susan from San Diego Sourdough

Susan from San Diego Sourdough

Susan's Sourdough Crumb

Susan's Sourdough Crumb

It was time to get back to basics. My wife and I love sourdough bread. I have been having lots of fun exploring other breads, especially rye breads and baguettes of late, but I was missing "plain old" sourdough bread.

 The formula that Susan from San Diego developed has been made by many on TFL, and, if there is anyone who has not loved it, they have kept it to themselves. So, Susan's sourdough has been on my "to bake" list for quite some time. Here is how I made it:

450 gms Giusto's Ultimate Performer (High Gluten Flour)

50 gms Giusto's (Whole) Rye Flour

340 gms Water

50 gms Active Starter

10 gms Sea Salt


Mix the water and flour in a large bowl until they form a shaggy mass. Cover tightly and allow to rest (autolyse) for 15-60 minutes.

Add the starter to the autolyse and mix it in. Then add the salt and mix it in.

On a lightly floured bench, do 4 or 5 French folds. Cover the dough for 30 minutes. Repeat the folds and resting for 30 minutes. Then, do the folds a third time. (At this point, I had moderate gluten development.)

Place the dough in a clean, lightly oiled bowl and cover tightly. Allow to rise until doubled. (I used my favorite Anchor Glass 8 cup/2 liter glass pitcher with a tight-fitting plastic cover. My dough doubled in 6 hours.)

Divide the dough into two equal pieces and pre-shape as rounds. Cover and allow to rest for 10-20 minutes.

Shape as boules and place in floured bannetons. (I used French linen-lined wicker ones.) Spray lightly with oil and place in food-grade plastic bags or cover with plastic wrap.

Proof for 1 hour, then place in the refrigerator over night (8-12 hours).

Take the loaves out of the refrigerator at least 4 hours before you plan to bake them. Allow them to warm up and rise to 1-1/2 times their original size.

45-60 minutes before baking, pre-heat the oven to 450F with a baking stone on the middle shelf and a cast iron skillet and metal loaf pan on the bottom shelf.

When the loaves are ready to bake, bring a cup of water to a boil and place a handful (4-6) ice cubes in the loaf pan. Shut the oven door.

Sprinkle semolina on a wooden peel. Transfer a loaf to the peel. Score it, and load it on the baking stone. Do the same with the second loaf. Then pour the boiling water into the skillet, being careful not to scald youself, and shut the oven door.

After 10 minutes, remove the two water recepticles from the oven. Bake another 10-15 minutes, until the loaves are nicely colored, the bottoms have a hollow sound when thumped and the internal temperature of the loaves is at least 205F. When they are done, turn off the oven but leave the loaves on the baking stone with the oven door held open 1-2 inches for another 5-10 minutes to dry the crust.

Remove the loaves from the oven and cool them thoroughly on a rack before slicing. (2 hours, if you can stand it.) You are allowed to smell the loaves and listen to them sing while they are cooling.

1. My sourdough starter is "1:3:4" (starter:water:flour). If your starter is more liquid or more firm, you should adjust the amount of water you use in the dough accordingly.
2. The 2-pan oven humidification and steaming method is from Hamelman's "Bread." Susan bakes her loaves under a stainless steel bowl for the first 1/2 to 2/3 of the time. I would have done this, if I had made a single large boule. But Hamelman's method gives me the second best oven spring and bloom.
3. With overnight cold retardation, this bread was moderately sour when first cool. The crust was thin but crunchy. The bread had a firm chewiness but was in no way "tough." It was, in short, what I regard as a "classic San Francisco-style Sourdough." Since this is precisely what I wanted, I am delighted with this bread. I am moving it from my "to bake" list to my "bake often" list.


holds99's picture

This bread was made from the Whole Wheat Oatmeal Bread recipe in George Greenstein's book Secrets of a Jewish Baker.  It's a really good bread, which has a very nice flavor and somewhat reminds me of a Scandanavian bread in texture; fairly open but substantial.  The recipe call for a sponge but this bread isn't difficult to make and is baked in a loaf pan.  As Mr. Greenstein says in the short intro: "The bread is best when baked in a loaf pan and sliced for sandwiches or toasted'  Oatmeal adds a distinct rough texture and nutty flavor and keeps the bread moist."  Like Mr. Greenstein said, it's excellent sliced and eaten with butter and marmalade or toasted.  My wife, who critiques the breads I bake really likes this bread.  I like to try different recipes and this one, for my taste, is a winner.

Greenstein's Whole Wheat Oatmeal Bread

ehanner's picture

PR Italian
PR Italian

Italian Bruchetta & White Bean Soup
Italian Bruchetta & White Bean Soup

Last night I made a double batch of Peter Reinhart's Italian Bread with Biga. I think I did a review of this bread a short time ago so I won't bother with the formula now.  My daughter told me I had to make this bread every day from now on. She was quite emphatic so I'll have to put it on the short list. This Italian has such a nice flavor it takes you by surprise. I must say the after taste is my favorite in this style.

So what does one do with 4 loaves of delicious Italian bread? Make Bruchetta!! The tomatoes are ripe and plentiful now and all the herbs are in full swing so the time is right for a big batch. I discovered a new (for me) Balsamic vinegar made from figs the other day. I decided to try that instead of the usual dark and heavy variety I otherwise use. The result was a slightly sweet yet tart dressing that we all loved.

A few Months ago JMonkey turned me on to a great soup cookbook by Sally Sampson called Souped Up. He said at the time he thought it was the best in the genre and I have to agree. The White Bean with Basil above was delicious as has been everything I have tried in the book. I have tried maybe a dozen out of 100 very nice recipes. It's on Amazon and inexpensive. I have given 4 copies away so far to family members.

I baked these on a sheet pan without a stone from just barely up to temp. I forgot to turn the heat down for a while so the tops got a little too brown first but they are still fine.



apprentice's picture

This bread was begun with the highest hopes and a bubbly poolish...

Beer Bread poolish









The poolish had actually bubbled a little too long. It looked perfect around 15 or 16 hours, but I had other things on the go and left it for another two hours. Slight deflation. Couldn't be helped. The picture was taken right before mixing. What do you think?

Had all my ingredients measured the night before, ready to go. Because I couldn't find hulled malted barley kernels locally, only unmalted, I opted to use non-diastatic barley malt powder. I understand malting better now. It seems I could have produced the powder myself using the unmalted kernels. That's what malting is, I learned, thanks to Mini O and a bunch of reading. You sprout or germinate whole grain kernels (usually, but not only barley) under controlled conditions. Once malted, the grain is heated to dry and then ground into powder. Sometimes called crystals, flour or extract, just to confuse things further. :)

I chose a nut brown ale from a local micro-brewery. Bonus! The bottle held 650 ml, so there would be some left over to go with my supper of curried chicken.

Will make a long story short for now. Things looked promising every step of the way. Even had some fun experimenting with techniques for the final ferment because I don't own oval bannetons. I scooched one loaf up in a trench created with a piece of canvas and covered it with plastic. Also tried an idea in From Julia Child's Kitchen for suspending a long loaf in a canvas sling, weighted heavily, from the edge of a table. Both worked fine but bannetons are way easier. They're on my long wish list!

I loaded the bread in the oven. My dinner was ready. I'd already been sipping the ale, and it was utterly delicious! I'm usually more of a wine or single malt whiskey girl, but that ale made a convert of me. It also made me so impatient for the bread! I was beginning to see why Hamelman wrote in his recipe that this one would have a lively, robust flavour.

Here they are:

beer bread loaves









And here's the crumb:

beer bread crumb









And here's the part I've been sighing about since Thursday. Why I haven't really wanted to write this blog entry. The taste...I'm so sorry, Jeffrey...was disappointing. Insipid even.

Gasp! Even typing those words, let alone saying them aloud, feels sacrilegious to me. I've always found Hamelman's recipes completely reliable. Oh, the temperature might be a little hot for my oven. I also had a lot to learn about handling rye before I could produce something similar to the promised results in those breads. But taste? He's never failed me there.

And probably still hasn't. It might well have been a mistake on my part. For one thing, I ended up with about two ounces less than the total weight he indicates. I have a sneaking hunch I might have mismeasured the salt, using the 1 1/4 tsp amount from the next line in the text, instead of 1 T. But that wouldn't account for two whole ounces!

So I'll make it again, especially if I hear from someone at TFL that they had a good result with this recipe. It's basically a nice white bread with some whole wheat and malted barley thrown in. The poolish, the ale...altogether it should have been tasty, as advertised. We'll see.

That's my story, and I'm sticking to it! Thanks for your interest.


Added by EDIT: Please be sure to read my post in the comment section below on the results of the second bake. I did change my story! This is a lovely bread, well worth your time and attention.

shimpiphany's picture

cooking in the wood fired oven is very different than cooking in the house. it is both easier and more difficult - easier in that the oven holds its heat steady so there is none of the temperature compenstation strategies, and the hearth makes a huge difference in the crust. more difficult in that it takes SO MUCH LONGER and the timing is really tricky.

overall, though, i want to retire so i can just cook all our meals in it. this is the best and most satisfying project i've done yet.

anyway, here are some pics from the last few weeks:

olive sourdough, rye sourdough, and 100% sprouted wheat and rye berry bread


jim's basic bread - this was the tastiest sourdough i've yet made. the crust was beautiful, with wonderful fermentation bubbles, and the crumb structure was great.

i'll post more pics of the pizza party when i get a chance to download from my camera.

abbieannie's picture

I would like to start milling my own flour and would appreciate any information as to where to purchase the wheat berries, etc.  I have searched but can not locate a source.  If you could help I would so much appreciate it.  I would also like feedback if you are milling your flour.

Thank you!




apprentice's picture

It was the nicest kind of serendipity that drew me into working with barley. A friend asked if I could make her some sprouted barley bread. She heard that sprouted grain breads are healthy, and she knows how much I enjoy a challenge.

Naturally, my first stop was TFL. Mini O, how did I miss that you were working with barley, too? I guess I was too focused at that point on "sprouted barley bread" as a search term. I found some references to other barley breads and looked further afield.

I accumulated lots of info about barley in general, its different forms and many uses. See here, if you want to delve further. Who knew what an important role this humble grain played in creating the world we know today?

Didn't find recipes for SBB, but I found references to a product made by the Alvarado Street Bakery of Sonoma County, California. They bill themselves as a global supplier of whole grain breads and bagels. Their loaf has sprouted barley and wheat berries plus a few other things including raisins. That wasn't what my friend had in mind. I kept looking.

My research ultimately led me to some non-sprouted barley breads that I really wanted to try. Also found a sprouted wheat bread recipe I figured I could modify for my friend to include sprouted barley as well. I reasoned that the plain barley breads would teach me what I needed to know to make a success of the sprouted version. Good excuse? We'll see how it works out. My wonderful friend said, "Carol, I'm sure I'll be happy to eat whatever you're happy to make."  :)

First up was Jeffrey Hamelman's Beer Bread with Roasted Barley. That will be my next blog entry – with pictures.



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